Easter brings back some of my fondest childhood memories. Probably my favorite Easter memory is waltzing into church bedecked with a brand-new Spring dress. If I remember right, that dress was finished off with white knee socks and a pair of yo-yo heels that my aunt had given me. Wow, I must have been a sight! But at the time I was so proud of my new dress and my first “heels”!
In those days, new clothes only came at prescribed times. We’d go school shopping to buy new clothes to start the school year, I’d get winter clothes for Christmas and then a new Spring dress for Easter. So, where did the tradition of dressing up for Easter get started? Evidently, it’s roots go all the way back to Rome in 300 A.D..
Christian beginnings. In the early days of Christianity, newly baptized Christians wore white linen robes at Easter to symbolize rebirth and new life. But it was not until 300 A.D. that wearing new clothes became an official decree, as the Roman emperor Constantine declared that his court must wear the finest new clothing on Easter. Eventually, the tradition came to mark the end of Lent, when after wearing weeks of the same clothes, worshipers discarded the old frocks for new ones.
In the US, the Easter frock can be traced back to the post-Civil War era when people wanted to embrace the joy and promise of the holiday after a season of war and loss.
Post Civil War. Easter traditions as we know it were not celebrated in America until after the Civil War. Before that time, Puritans and the Protestant churches saw no good purpose in religious celebrations. After the devastation of the war, however, the churches saw Easter as a source of hope for Americans. Easter was called “The Sunday of Joy,” and women traded the dark colors of mourning for the happier colors of spring.
Really, I credit Easter with my love for girly fashion, because that was the one time a year that I was guaranteed to receive a new dress. Often, I’d also receive a new hat to boot! These days, receiving new clothes is no longer the occasion it used to be and I’ve come a long way since knee socks and yo-yo’s, but I’ll still hold on to the fond memories of my Easter dress and how I felt in it.
Do you have fond memories of an Easter dress? Enjoy this special holiday and make sure to take some pictures in your new Spring frock.